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2020 Ford Puma review: top of the crossover class

Take Britain’s best-seller, fortify it into something more fashionable, then add a sprinkling of off-road attitude. Catnip for car buyers, right? Not necessarily.

The 2014 Ecosport was Ford’s last attempt at a Fiesta-based small SUV. Designed primarily for India and South America, it felt woefully off the pace in Europe: a second-world car that became a first-world problem. A critical drubbing led to slow sales, which even a comprehensive facelift in 2017 couldn’t fully fix.

Despite borrowing its name from Ford’s curvy late-90s coupe – also derived from the Fiesta, of course – the new Puma is effectively a successor to the Ecosport (although, bizarrely, the latter car lives on as a cheaper alternative). And this time, Ford isn’t doing things by halves.

The Puma, you see, is more than simply a taller Fiesta. Priced from £20,545, it has some genuinely clever features, plus lively handling and bountiful boot space. Spoiler alert: I think it could be the compact crossover to beat. Let’s start with the styling…

Different by design

Distinctive design can make or break a car in this sector. Looking different to a humdrum hatchback is what counts, even if that means being willfully weird. How else do you explain the success of the Nissan Juke?

Thankfully, the Puma is easier on the eye than the Juke. Deep bumpers and fulsome haunches provide some visual muscle, while a steeply-raked windscreen adds a dose of dynamism. But its overall design is soft and friendly-faced (Ford points out the ‘optimistic’ front grille).

The luxury-focused Titanium model has black wheelarch extensions, while those of the sportier ST-Line are body colour. Both wear 17-inch alloys – or 18s for the flagship ST-Line X. You can upgrade to 19s, too, for the full pimp-my-Puma look.

There aren’t so many personalisation options as the Volkswagen T-Cross, for instance, but bold LED running lights and a bright palette of paint colours help the Puma stand out.

A family-sized Fiesta

Inside is where things get really interesting. You’ll recognise the Fiesta dashboard, but the digital dials are new. The 12.3-inch display changes appearance according to which drive mode you select. More on those shortly.

The high-mounted centre touchscreen is easy to use while driving, and is supplemented by voice controls and shortcut buttons on the steering wheel. My test cars both had the 10-speaker B&O Premium hi-fi, which is great value at £450.

The Puma’s seats are mounted 60mm higher than a Fiesta, which gives a more commanding view of the road. A 10cm longer wheelbase also liberates enough legroom for lanky teenagers in the back, although they may baulk at the lack of USB points. Removable seat covers, which can be unzipped and washed are a neat touch, albeit not confirmed for the UK market.

The boot holds a class-leading 456 litres of luggage (401 litres in hybrid versions): more than the Kuga SUV from the class above. The load area is usefully square, too, at one metre wide and up to 1.15 metres tall. Open the – optionally electric – tailgate and the flexible parcel shelf lies flat against the rear window, so you don’t need to remove it when carrying bulky loads.

There’s also an 80-litre, rubber-lined storage compartment beneath the boot floor, which Ford calls the ‘Megabox’. A removable plug means you can rinse it out with water, which then drains away beneath the car. It’s the perfect place to stash muddy shoes or sports gear.

From mild to wild

The launch engine line-up comprises Ford’s familiar 1.0-litre Ecoboot petrol in three guises: 125hp, 125hp with mild-hybrid (MHEV) tech and 155hp MHEV. This isn’t a hybrid in the usual sense; it can’t drive on electric power alone, nor can it be plugged in. Instead, the batteries harvest braking energy to boost the engine when needed – and power the start-stop system.

The result is useful fuel savings. The 125hp MHEV manages 43.6mpg and CO2 emissions of 124g/km in the latest WLTP tests, versus 40.6mpg and 131g/km for the same engine without electrical assistance. The 155hp version costs £750 more upfront, but there’s little penalty at the pumps: it returns 42.0mpg and 127g/km.

Frankly, neither engine is a ball of fire. The 125hp car reaches 62mph from rest in 9.8 seconds, while the more powerful model is 0.8 seconds swifter. However, fast Ford fans may not have long to wait for a Puma ST, development of which is rumoured to be well underway. If it’s as dynamically deft as the hot Fiesta, it could be a game-changer.

Less excitingly, there’s also a 1.5-litre diesel and seven-speed automatic gearbox in the works, both due in May 2020. As well as other models, this combination will be offered in the forthcoming flagship ST-Line X Vignale, which combines racier styling with a plush, fully-loaded interior. The aim, according to one Ford spokesperson, is to “tempt buyers downsizing from larger diesel SUVs”.

Handle with flair

The Puma weighs just 60kg more than a Fiesta, so both engines feel adequately brisk. Indeed, I’d be tempted to stick with the 125hp MHEV. The extra oomph served up by its mild-hybrid system compensates for its small displacement, making for eager acceleration out of bends. The downside is a lot of thrummy three-cylinder noise under load.

Cleverly, the hybrid system cuts the engine as you coast to a stop, then restarts it in 300 milliseconds (literally the blink of an eye, says Ford) when you need to pull away. The process is utterly seamless, too.

There are five drive modes: Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Trail, although with passive dampers their effect is mostly limited to steering and throttle response, along with stability and traction control calibration. Don’t get too carried away in Trail either: the front-wheel-drive-only Puma is no Land Rover.

In terms of chassis set-up, the Ford sits at the sportier end of the spectrum. Its ride is taut and measured – perhaps too firm on 19-inch wheels: try before you buy – and it corners with calm composure. The steering is nicely weighted, although it doesn’t fizz with feedback like a Fiesta, and its manual gearshift is notchy and tactile.

Ultimately, the Puma isn’t as much fun as a Fiesta or Focus, but there’s a pleasing coherence to its controls, and responses on the road, which makes it the small crossover of choice for those who enjoy driving. Ford has a knack for getting this stuff right.

2020 Ford Puma: verdict

Usually when writing a crossover review, I conclude by suggesting you choose the hatchback instead. Conventional cars are generally cheaper to buy and run, drive better and are scarcely less spacious. In the case of cars like the dismal Vauxhall Mokka X, not to mention the original UK Ecosport, fashion has a lot to answer for.

Today’s conclusion is less clear-cut, as the Puma offers some real advantages over its smaller sibling. It’s genuinely practical enough for a family of four, with the reassurance of a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. It also offers technologies that aren’t available on the Fiesta, plus, it doesn’t sacrifice decent handling on the altar of raised ride height and a rugged look.

This is an extremely competitive class, with the Nissan Juke, Renault Captur, Seat Arona and Peugeot 2008 among an ever-expanding cadre of rivals. The Puma’s sportier bent may not suit everyone, but it certainly should be on your radar if you like this type of car. This time, I think Ford has a hit on its hands.

Ford Puma ST-Line 125hp MHEV: specification

Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol mild-hybrid

Transmission: Six-speed manual, front-wheel drive

Power: 125hp

0-62mph: 9.8 seconds

Top speed: 119mph

Fuel economy: 40.6mpg

CO2: 131g/km (WLTP)

Length/width/height: 4,207/1,930/1,552mm

Boot size: 401 litres

Euro NCAP safety rating: 5 stars

2020 Ford Puma example prices

Titanium 125hp manual: £20,545

ST-Line 125hp MHEV manual: £21,795

ST-Line X 155hp MHEV manual: £23,645

2020 Ford Puma: in pictures

Ford has been America’s best-selling auto brand for a decade

Ford America's best-selling brand for a decade

As the motoring world takes stock of 2019, Ford can proudly talk of a longer-standing achievement. It has officially been the best-selling auto brand in America for a decade.

This is no surprise result for the Blue Oval, however. Its F-Series pick-ups have been at the top of the truck charts in America for 43 years. And for 38 years, they’ve been its favourite vehicles overall.

In 2019, the F-Series and Ranger sold nearly a million units.

Ford America's best-selling brand for a decade

In spite of the contraction of the sports car market worldwide, the Mustang remains a success for Ford. It was America’s best-selling sports car in 2019, and gained a 20 percent jump in the final months of the year – perhaps due to the introduction of the GT500.

Another big success story is the Transit van. It had its best year yet in the US market, since its introduction Stateside in 2014.

Overall, Ford has been America’s best-selling commercial van manufacturer for more than four decades straight.

Ford America's best-selling brand for a decade

“America’s best-selling brand for the past decade is on a roll,” said Mark Laneve, Ford vice president for US marketing sales and service.

“F-Series celebrates 43 years as the country’s favourite truck and 38 years as its overall vehicle, and Transit stood at the top of the van podium again. We promised a winning portfolio and that;s what we’re delivering with more on the way, including Mustang Mach-E, an all-new F-150 and the return of Bronco. It’s going to be an exciting year for new product at Ford.”

Ford America's best-selling brand for a decade

The total vehicle sales figures are slightly down when compared with 2018, though. There’s been a 1.3 percent drop in the fourth quarter of the year.

The most dramatic drop was in car sales, with a 41 percent fall for Q4, compared with 2018. Trucks witnessed a 15.9 percent jump for Q4, although SUVs were down 4.1 percent.

Ford GT review: a Le Mans racer with number plates

Ford GT

Ford v Ferrari, a new docudrama starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, debuts in cinemas soon. It retells one of the most celebrated stories in motorsport: how Henry Ford II tried to buy Ferrari, was rudely snubbed by Enzo, then enacted his revenge on the racetrack. Ford’s weapon of choice was the GT40 – so-called because it was just 40 inches tall – and it went on to utterly dominate endurance racing.

Success for the GT40 took time. At Le Mans in 1964, all three cars failed to finish. The following year, Ford suffered the same fate. But an updated MkII model came good in 1966, with a legendary 1-2-3 finish in the 24-hour race. Ferrari’s 330 P4 prototypes were nowhere to be seen. Incredibly, Ford would win Le Mans four times in a row, from 1966 to 1969, cementing the GT40’s near-mythical status and inspiring Hollywood to tell its tale.

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The story doesn’t end there, though. Fifty years after its first historic victory, Ford returned to Le Mans in 2016 with a new GT (not christened ‘GT44’, despite being four inches taller) and won the LMGTE Pro class. Job done, you might think, but unlike the original GT40, this car has another mission to accomplish: taking on Ferrari on the road. That’s where I come in.

Ford GT

OK, so I didn’t drive the GT on the road. Ford only has two press cars in Europe and didn’t want either reconfigured by an over-excited hack confusing the M6 with the Mulsanne Straight. Instead, I was let loose on M-Sport’s new test-track in the Lake District. As the firm behind Ford’s WRC rally cars, M-Sport knows how to design a tortuously twisty loop of tarmac. Whether such a circuit suits a barely-disguised Le Mans racer is another matter. Oh, did I mention it was raining?

In the metal (sorry, carbon fibre), the GT looks stone-cold sensational, the voluptuous curves of the GT40 fortified by slash-cut intakes and aggressive aero. The rear view – past two afterburner tailpipes, over the transparent engine cover and through diverging rear buttresses – is like nothing else. In radiant ‘Triple Yellow’ with nose-to-tail racing stripes, it makes brightens up even a damp day in Cumbria.

I lift the scissor-style door and slide over a wide sill. Headroom feels tight with a crash helmet on and the bucket seat doesn’t move; you pull a strap to slide the pedals instead. Ford anoraks will spot the infotainment screen from a Fiesta, but that’s your lot for luxury – there are no cupholders and no carpets. No matter: this car is for driving, and its suede-wrapped wheel and anodised shift paddles feel superb.

Ford GT

In place of a good ol’ V8, the latest GT packs a downsized 3.5-litre Ecoboost V6, but what it lacks in cubic inches is amply compensated for by twin turbos and a dry weight of 1,385kg (scarcely more than a new Ford Focus). With 656hp coursing through its carbon fibre rear wheels, it scrabbles for traction in first, second and third gears, but feels brutally quick. It’s also fiercely loud: not sonorous like a Ferrari, but industrial and raw like a race car.

It responds like a race car, too. Anti-lag technology keeps the thrust coming, while the dual-clutch gearbox never pauses for breath. Its suspension is taut and tied-down, its steering telepathically direct. Switch into Track mode and the whole car drops by 50mm, but even in Normal it feels fiercely focused. However, while its sheer speed intimidates, its balanced, cohesive chassis does not. By the time my brief session comes to an end, I’m convinced I could win Le Mans.

Price: £450,000

0-62mph: 2.8sec 

Top speed: 216mph

CO2 G/KM: N/A

MPG combined: 17.0

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Ford Ranger Raptor may get Mustang V8 engine swap

Ford Ranger Raptor getting a V8 in Australia

Answering the prayers of many a Raptor enthusiast could be Ford Australia, which is rumoured to be preparing a Mustang V8 engine swap for the Ford Ranger Raptor.

At present, the Baja-bashing pick-up comes with a four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine. That’s not about to change in the UK, sadly.

However, if the claim by Wheels magazine is correct, diesel-powered Raptors down under will be offered with a V8 instead. These won’t come courtesy of Ford itself, but via an external engineering outfit.

Rabid Raptor

Ford Ranger Raptor getting a V8 in Australia

Sound unlikely? Well, consider that Holden has been selling right-hand-drive Chevrolet Camaros in Australia for the past year. They don’t come like that from Chevy. Rather, Holden’s HSV performance division converts them for Australian consumption.

Although the Ranger Raptor V8 won’t be in-house, that doesn’t mean it won’t be official. It’s claimed the car will be up to showroom safety and durability standards, sold via Ford dealers and come with a five-year warranty.

Exactly what spec the V8 Raptor would have beyond the engine swap is unknown, although expect some further upgrades to compliment its new, more muscular heart.

Ford Ranger Raptor getting a V8 in Australia

The current Ranger can actually trace its roots to Australia. The ‘T6’ architecture that underpins the Ranger and Ford Everest SUV was partly developed by Ford’s Antipodean arm. 

Needless to say, this project is very much focused on Australian buyers. Much as you might want a V8 Raptor in the UK, you’ll need to prove it by importing one personally.

Ford Fiesta ST Performance Edition review: a box-fresh modern classic

Ford Fiesta ST Performance Edition

“He can’t afford a Rolls or a Bentley, he has to buy a second-hand Ford,” sang Ray Davies of The Kinks in 1969. How times have changed. Today, you can buy a 1980s Bentley for banger money, while Fords of that era are blue-chip classics. Eye-watering prices paid at auction include £122,500 for a 1987 Sierra Cosworth RS500, £52,750 for a 1990 Sapphire Cosworth 4×4 and £60,188 for a 1985 Escort RS Turbo. And it’s not only fast Fords: earlier this year, a 1978 Fiesta 950 – formerly an exhibit at London’s Science Museum – sold for £15,200.

In such company, the new Fiesta ST Performance Edition looks good value at £26,495. That’s some £4,000 more expensive than a fully-loaded ST-3, however, and a whopping £7,000 more than the entry-level ST-1. It also forces the car into contention with hot hatchbacks from the class above, such as the Hyundai i30N and Renault Megane RS 280. So, what makes this pocket rocket special – and is it worth the money?

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You’ll spot the Deep Orange paint first. It’s compulsory on the Performance Edition, and even more dazzlingly day-glo than the Orange Fury hue on the Focus ST. New 18-inch, 10-spoke alloys are more subtle, and save nearly 2kg of unsprung weight per corner. The car also sits closer to the tarmac – 15mm at the front and 10mm at the rear – thanks to Ford Performance adjustable coilover suspension. My mum thought it gaudy, while my 16-year-old nephew said it looked “sick”. Which is probably as it should be.

Ford Fiesta ST Performance Edition

The feistiest Fiesta also comes with the Performance Pack: usually £925 even on the ST-3. It comprises a Quaife limited-slip differential to haul the car around bends, launch control for those all-important traffic light getaways, plus shift lights to help you grab the next gear. More prosaically, you get all the equipment that comes as standard on the ST-3, including LED headlights, navigation, heated seats, heated steering wheel and a reversing camera.

So far, so good, but these upgrades aren’t bolstered by extra power. The Performance Edition shares its 1.5-litre petrol engine and six-speed manual ’box with the regular ST. That means 200hp, 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds and 144mph flat-out, plus impressive 40.4mpg economy: the latter boosted by clever tech that deactivates one of the engine’s three cylinders under light loads. The transition – from GTI worrier to eco warrior – is utterly seamless.

You’ll be having waaaaay too much fun to worry about miles per gallon, though. The Fiesta ST is a LOL emoji on wheels, an intravenous sugar-hit of alert steering, instant turn-in and terrier-like tenacity in corners. Push hard and it maintains a neutral, throttle-adjustable balance that’s rare in a front-driven car. Switching into Sport or Race modes makes things still more intense, with pops and fizzes from the twin tailpipes.

Ford Fiesta ST Performance Edition

If you’re worried the coilover suspension has ruined the ride, don’t be. There are 12 bump and 16 rebound settings to tinker with, but the standard set-up is supple enough for every day. It’s firm, but rarely harsh – like tightly clenched fists gripping bicycle handlebars. And the sheer lack of inertia is just joyful. Even at slow speeds, the ST feels alive to every input.

Me? I’d save the cash and go for an ST-3. The orange is a tad look-at-me for my liking and the Performance Edition only comes with three doors: not ideal when you have kids. Then again, this one-of-600 flagship will be the one fetishised by fast Ford anoraks, meaning a potential payday in years to come. If it follows the same trajectory as that Escort RS Turbo, it will be worth £187,584 in 2049. Now there’s food for thought.

Price: £26,495

0-62mph: 6.5sec

Top speed: 144mph

CO2 G/KM: 136

MPG combined: 40.4

Ford Fiesta ST Performance Edition: in pictures

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Ford and McDonald’s turn coffee beans into car parts

Ford McDonald's coffee plastic

In what must be one of the stranger sustainability stories, Ford and McDonald’s have teamed up to make use of coffee bean skins. How? By making car parts from them, of course.

The coffee bean run-off can be used to create otherwise nondescript plastic bits, under the bonnet and for headlight surrounds. The shells are heated under low oxygen, mixed with plastic and turned into pellets. These are then formed, as plastic would be, into whatever shape is needed.

According to Ford, a ‘significant portion’ of the waste bean skins can be recycled. Every year, thousands of tonnes of ‘chaff’ – as the bean skins are known – comes off during the roasting process. 

Ford McDonald's coffee plastic

“Like McDonald’s, Ford is committed to minimising waste and we’re always looking for innovative ways to further that goal,” said Ian Olson, senior director for sustainability at McDonald’s. 

“By finding a way to use coffee chaff as a resource, we are elevating how companies together can increase participation in the closed-loop economy.”

Ford McDonald's coffee plastic

Besides finding a clever use for what would otherwise be a waste product, the coffee chaff also offers some significant advantages in comparison to contemporary materials.

For a start, it takes around 25 percent less energy to mould. Then, once the part is made, it’s 20 percent lighter and more resistant to heat. 

“McDonald’s commitment to innovation was impressive to us and matched our own forward-thinking vision and action for sustainability,” said Debbie Mielewski of Ford.

“This is an example of jump-starting the closed-loop economy, where different industries work together and exchange materials that otherwise would be side or waste products.”

Phwoar and order: Ford Ranger Raptor joins the police

Ford Raptor police car

The Ford Ranger Raptor is joining the police. The Baja-bashing pick-up will see action in South Wales, as officers evaluate whether it’s up to the task of crime-fighting.

The Raptor is uniquely equipped for law enforcement, especially when it comes to leaving the smoothness and security of Tarmac behind. With its race-spec Fox shocks, off-road tyres and Baja mode, there’s no place for miscreants to flee. 

As such, Wales is perhaps the perfect proving ground for the Raptor, being one of the UK’s most rural areas. The police Raptors could very well see action sliding across fields and dodging sheep in pursuit of criminals.

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We’ve experienced the potential of the Raptor first-hand at the launch in Morocco. In his review, Tim Pitt said: “When it comes to rough terrain – the sort that makes the surface of the moon look hospitable – it’s almost without equal.

“Where gaudy SUVs kerb their 21-inch alloys then promptly admit defeat, the ultimate Ranger, like a cartoon superhero, blasts gleefully into the distance.”

A time zone or three away from Wales, we’ll grant you. But if it can handle the sun-scorched dunes of Morocco, it’ll be fine in the Welsh uplands.

Ford Raptor police car

The Raptor will join another fast Ford, the new Focus ST Estate, in being evaluated by the police.

While the Raptor is capable on-road, the 155mph Focus will be more suited to thrashing around the ‘Evo Triangle’.

Both are modified by Ford’s Special Vehicle Preparation team. It adds the full police livery and a suite of lights and sirens.

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Opinion: Is the Volkswagen Golf R the ‘new Cosworth’?

Volkswagen Golf R

Search for ‘Golf R stolen’ on Google News and you’ll be presented with some grim stories. These aren’t exactly tales of the unexpected – the hot Golf has been a target for many years – but it’s the rate at which the cars are being stolen that’s most alarming.

Many are stolen from driveways in the middle of the night, with owners becoming the latest victims of the keyless theft epidemic. Even more chilling is the fact that some thieves are breaking into homes to grab the keys.

What’s the appeal, aside from the fact that the Volkswagen Golf is worryingly simple to steal? Put simply, the Golf R blends in. Plus it’s a very easy car to drive fast, with plenty of power and four-wheel-drive traction.

For armed robberies, ram-raiding and drug trafficking, the Golf R is the perfect vehicle. To passers-by, it looks like an ordinary Golf, but it packs enough punch to outrun the police if the thieves are caught in the act. Stick a pair of fake number plates on a Golf R and the criminals can move about undetected for weeks.

Last night, Harry Metcalfe tweeted a list of stolen vehicles in the Cotswolds area. Of the 32 cars on the list, 11 are Volkswagen Golf R hatchbacks or estates. That’s a third.

Metcalfe asked if the Golf R is “the new Ford Sierra Cosworth when it comes to nickability”, which is a fair question.

Like the Golf R, the ‘Cossie’ was stolen in large numbers and became the ram-raiders vehicle of choice in the 80s and 90s. The Sierra RS Cosworth was still being used as a getaway vehicle as recently as 2003.

There was a time when the RS Cosworth was virtually uninsurable. Park one outside your house and there’d be a good chance it would be gone in the morning. Some owners were followed home, with the thieves returning in the dead of the night once they knew where the car was parked overnight.

Ford Sierra RS Cosworth

It was a similar story for the Escort RS Cosworth. In common with the Sierra, its door locks were as useful as an umbrella in a blizzard, and many were stolen for some Roxette-inspired playtime. Jeremy Clarkson famously owned one and, although this might be an urban myth, I’m pretty sure he was quoted £20,000 to insure it.

What is true is the fact that he opened his front door one morning to find that somebody had half-inched the rear wing. Ford made the ‘Aero Pack‘ a delete option in 1993 – not that many owners chose to order their Cossie without the body furniture.

Few cars can boast a 20-page thread on Pistonheads entitled ‘Stolen Ford Cosworth stories’.

‘Secure your driveway’

Fast forward to 2019 and it’s easy to draw comparisons between the Cossies of the past and the Golf R of the present. Only last month, police in the North West advised Golf owners to review their home security. “Just to reiterate, we have seen a recent pattern of suspicious activity, attempt burglaries and burglaries at addresses with a Volkswagen Golf on the drive,“ the police said in a message.

“If you have a Golf, please review your home security, secure your driveway if possible. Check your CCTV and security lights work.“

Scary times if you’re a Volkswagen Golf R owner. Would you consider selling yours to buy something less likely to be stolen? Let us know in the comments section.

The real cars of Le Mans 66

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

With Le Mans 66 opening in cinemas, the famous story of Ford’s triumph over Ferrari in the 24-hour race will be further immortalised in popular culture. It’s a rare treat for racing and motoring enthusiasts to see a movie where cars are the stars.

And if you can get to Los Angeles before January 19 2020, you could see them in person at the world-renowed Petersen Automotive Museum.

Winning numbers

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

Two Ferraris featured in the film will be on display at LA’s Petersen Automotive Museum in January, as a part of the ‘Winning Numbers’ exhibit. The 1961 Ferrari 250 SWB SEFAC and 1957 Ferrari 625/250 TR will be joined by a Ford GT40 Mk3, the first Shelby Cobra from 1962 and a 1952 Ferrari 212/225 Barchetta. We start with the Ferraris…

Ferrari 250 SWB SEFAC

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

The 250 Short Wheel Base is an integral part of Ferrari’s road and race history. Affectionately known as the ‘hot rods’, the SEFAC 250 SWB Competizione racers were made from thinner alloy and produced more than 300hp.

The car on display at the Petersen brought home a GT class win for Ferrari at Le Mans in 1961 and finished third overall. It’s fair to say this car is a building block of the Ferrari Le Mans legend, one with which Ford was so determined to grapple.

The car is owned by Petersen founding chairman Bruce Meyer, who loaned it to the Le Mans 66 production team. Meyer bought it in 2010.

Ferrari 625 TRC

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

The other movie star car is a Ferrari 625 TRC Spyder by Scaglietti. Unlike the 250 SWB SEFAC, which is a GT racer, the TRC is a sports prototype. It came about right at the start of Ferrari’s era of dominance at Le Mans. The marque took outright wins from 1960 to 1965. The events of 1966’s race are, of course, the subject of the film.

While not a Le Mans winner itself, this 625 is an integral part of this story. It was raced in 1962 by none other than Ken Miles, star character of Le Mans 66, played by Christian Bale. He won his first race in the car, in Santa Barbara.

It’s appearance in Le Mans 66 must have been something of a trip down memory lane. Bruce Meyer bought the car in 2006.

Shelby Cobra

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

Matt Damon stars opposite Christian Bale in Le Mans 66, playing a young Caroll Shelby. He was instrumental in developing the GT40 to a state where it could legitimately take on Ferrari at Le Mans. Shelby had proven himself with his work on the AC Cobra.

Famous now, the Shelby Cobra was an experiment back in 1962 A Shelby-tuned Ford V8 was added to a small British roadster called the AC Ace, along with wide wheelarches and fat tyres.

The 1962 car on display at the Petersen is the very first production-specification, competition-ready car produced by Shelby. It’s also part of the Bruce Meyer collection.

Ford GT40 Mk3

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

The story culminates with the victory of the Ford GT40 over Ferrari at Le Mans, the American marque taking over the podium with a 1-2-3 finish. It’s only right that an example should feature in the display at the Petersen.

This is a road-going Mk3 from 1967. It differs from the 1966 cars most obviously at the front, with more bulbous lights for road use. Other changes include more space for luggage, movement of the gear shifter to the middle, plus a de-tuned power output of 310hp.

Just seven Mk3 GT40s were made, of which one is on display at the Petersen. The car’s significantly modified looks supposedly put off some buyers, who wanted something resembling the triumphant racers.

Ferrari 212 225 Barchetta

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

This is a very significant car in the story of Ford taking on Ferrari, in spite of being built 14 years before Ford’s Le Mans win.

Henry Ford’s relationship with Ferrari became obsessive over time. Before having his takeover offer turned down, however, he was like any other fan. This 212 225 was a special order by FoMoCo for Henry Ford II, used as his personal car.

It’s said the diminutive Barchetta served as inspiration for a great many design cues that appeared on the Ford Thunderbird in 1955.

Ford v Ferrari

Le Mans 66 Ford v Ferrari

“The story of Ford’s triumph over Ferrari at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans will be told for generations,” said Terry L. Karges, executive director at the Petersen Museum. “We’re excited to see the film, but we’re most excited to offer fans of the movie an opportunity to see the cars that will be in the film and learn about other vehicles that are pivotal to the story.”

Ford teases 2020 Bronco SUV with wild off-road racer

Ford Bronco R teases 2020 truck

One of 2020’s most hotly-anticipated cars is the new Ford Bronco. Now, Ford has previewed the upcoming model with a Bronco R racer – and revealed the official Bronco logo.

As motoring comebacks go, the return of the Bronco is up there with reviving the Toyota Supra and Land Rover Defender. The last Bronco went out of production in 1996, after a 31-year run. It’s one of Ford’s most iconic models and fans have struggled to let go.

Finally, in 2017, Ford gave in, announcing at the Detroit Auto Show that it was developing a new Bronco. Alhough dealers won’t see cars until later next year, Ford has begun the teaser campaign.

Ford Bronco R teases 2020 truck

The Bronco R’s first job is heading to the Baja Peninsula for the famous 1,000-mile race, which a Bronco won 50 years ago in 1969. Shelby Hall, granddaughter of Rod Hall, who took the win in 1969, will be piloting the car during its attempt.

Hip to be square

Silhouette race cars are a great way of teasing what coming models will be like, without giving too much away. Nonetheless, we can expect the Bronco to look as it should: squat, squared off and thick-jawed.

Ford says the racer gives ‘proportion hints of what enthusiasts can expect to see when the future Bronco makes its world premiere next spring’. On the inside, the ‘simple surfaces of the instrument panel’ are a nod to the first-generation Bronco.

Ford Bronco R teases 2020 truck

Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product development officer, says “It also provides an authentic test bed to demonstrate our upcoming Bronco’s desert racing capability and durability”.

The Bronco R racer has been a fast-paced project for Ford. Only since July has chief designer Paul Wraith been working with his small team to dress this one-off prototype. The production car will be revealed in the spring, with deliveries later in 2020.